Fans of "Game of Thrones" on HBO know the phrase, "Winter is coming". For those who have not read the books, or have watched the show, it is motto of the Stark family; a family of nobles that oversee the northern-most lands of the kingdom. Today, the weather feels like summer has ended, fall is here, and that means winter is on its way; which brings me today's post.
|Banana Spray doesn't taste good.|
In dental school, I was encouraged by some professors to make sure that I tried every dental product that I was going to use when seeing a patient. The reasoning was simple. I should know what the material tastes and feels like so that I can understand and empathize with what my patient was experiencing. Most things tasted, and felt, ok. For example, the impression material, or “gook”, that we use to take molds of your teeth was fine; it didn’t taste bad, but it wasn’t great tasting either. One of the worst things to taste was “banana spray”. What’s banana spray you ask? It is an anesthetic spray that is used for a patient that has a severe gag reflex. It tastes awful, and personally, I really don’t think it works. There are much better ways to get someone with a severe gag reflex to stay calm while doing dental work. I used it once or twice in dental school on the insistence from a professor. I wasn’t happy about it, and you can bet neither was the patient.
So, what does my experience of trying different dental products in dental school have to do with winter and sinus infections? Well, over the years I have had a number of patients come in swearing that they had a terrible tooth ache in the back teeth of their top jaw. Even though this can happen any time of year, it tends to be more prevalent during the fall and winter months for our patients. When this situation occurs in my office, we talk about their symptoms, do an exam, and take an x-ray or two. If everything appears to be ok on the x-ray and in the mouth, one of the questions I always ask is, “Do you have any sinus issues right now?” If the answer is “yes”, I have the patient put their head between their legs to see if this causes any kind of change in pressure or relief on the teeth that are bothering them. If they do have a sinus infection, we give them an antibiotic prescription, and we call them back in a few days to make sure they are feeling better.
However, until last year, I had never personally experienced a sinus infection. Yes, I could diagnose the problem, but I was never able to empathize and fully understand what my patients were feeling. Then, I had one. IT HURT LIKE CRAZY! If I wasn’t a dentist, I would have sworn that I would have needed at least 3 root canals. It felt like I was getting lightning bolts put straight into the roots of my teeth. In a weird way I was actually happy to have had it, because now I know exactly what my patients were telling me about. I was able to finally say, “I know exactly what you are feeling right now.”
Why am I telling you this? Simple, I have a sinus infection right now that is causing my teeth to hurt, so I figured I would warn you that winter is coming; and so are sinus infections!